September 1, 2019
Welcome to the monthly Health and Human Rights Media Watch. Members of the Health Advisory Council monitor relevant organizations and websites and compile a list of important news and issues which are summarized here. These newsletters will be posted on our website and archived as a resource. If you wish to join this effort, contact email@example.com. Please feel free to share the newsletter with your colleagues and communities and encourage them to join the JVP Health Advisory Council. Thanks to all who have contributed!
Hospital centered surveillance of births in Gaza, 2011–2017 and heavy metal contamination of the mothers reveals long-term impact of wars. Reproductive Toxicology 2019;86:23-32. Mothers living in Gaza near sites of Israeli attacks and the subsequent collections of toxic waste had the highest levels of heavy metals in hair samples, and the highest rates of preterm and the highest rates of preterm birth and birth defects, following Israel’s assaults of 2012 and 2014.
Reproductive ToxicologyIsraeli forces kill three Palestinians in Gaza The Palestinian men were killed by Israeli forces in Gaza on August 18. In a similar attack the previous week, Israeli forces killed four Palestinians. Israel has alleged that the three men killed on Sunday were responsible for firing rockets into Israeli territory. The rockets which were reportedly fired in response to Israeli raids were intercepted.
Peoples Dispatch Meet the para athletics amputee champion from Gaza changing perceptions in the besieged strip. Video of 28 year old man from Gaza with a prosthetic right leg who is representing Palestine and winning medals and awards in para Olympics and other international competitions.
Middle East EyeThis video shows a team of Palestinians who use wheelchairs performing their joyous adaptation of the traditional dabke folk dance. Founded by 25-year-old Abeer al-Herkali, the dance troupe trains at Peace Sport Club for Persons with Disability in Gaza City.
Electronic IntifadaForensic Architecture made public their study on Israel’s aerial spraying of herbicides. It demonstrated that “Israel’s aerial spraying of herbicides, which it admits was conducted almost 30 times between 2014 and 2018, has damaged lands and crops deep inside the Strip.” Carried out by commercial crop dusters hired by the Israeli Ministry of Defense operating on the Israeli side of the fence with Gaza, spraying was conducted in conditions where winds carried the chemicals westward into the Strip and at damaging concentrations causing indiscriminate, unpredictable damage.
MezanAnd in a similar report, in the last five years Israeli planes have sprayed herbicide more than 30 times on the Israeli side of the buffer zone with Gaza. The Israeli Defense Ministry claims these actions are “necessary for security reasons”, claiming the spraying is only over Israel and “supervised by certified professionals.”
Forensic Architecture spent 16 months investigating the effects of the spraying. They determined the spraying was killing agricultural crops and causing uncontrollable damage in Gaza. An Israeli agricultural town was paid off for crop damage, but Palestinian farmers with the same claims were dismissed.
The GuardianAnera has built over 1100 greenhouses across Gaza. Participating families are trained on best agricultural practices and receive regular support from an Anera agronomist.
AneraUNWRA in partnership with UNICEF and the EU has concluded the “Keeping Kids Active” project in Gaza. The summer camp reached 90,000 children and provides recreational activities, counseling and psychological referrals to specialized mental health services.
OCHA OPTIsrael is placing increased one year bans on Gaza exit permits to UN Gaza staff to W.B. and international travel. In 2017, 40 staffers were barred from applying for exit permits. Rising to 140 UN and 73 NGO staff in 2019. As of June 2019, 150 UN and 111 NGO staff have been barred. Half of the Save The Children staff have been banned.
OCHA OPTVideo documenting severe medicine shortages in Gaza and the consequences for patients.
Palestinian Center for Human RightsSevere sniper injuries at Gaza border fence documented by PBS. For months, Palestinians in Gaza have protested their conditions along the border fence with Israel. The demonstrations have often turned violent — even deadly. Doctors and international observers say they’re disturbed by the devastating sniper injuries that further limit the young protesters’ prospects. Seven thousand have been shot by the Israeli army while taking part in protests along the border of Gaza in the last 15 months.
PBSThe Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have in recent months deployed a number of new non-lethal weapons and crowd-control measures on the border with the Gaza Strip One of the responses came in the form the Sea of Tears: a type of multi-rotor unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that can drop standard tear gas canisters over rioters approaching the border fence. New liquid crowd-control sprays have been deployed in two forms: one is a blue liquid that sticks to people, taking around a day to come off, the second is a liquid that “gives off a very harsh smell and causes people to disperse.”
UN says Israeli army’s shooting of Palestinian child is an ‘example of excessive use of force.’ The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights called the shooting of a nine-year-old Palestinian child in the head by Israeli soldiers “an example of excessive use of force”. Abdul Rahman Shteiwi was shot in the forehead with a metal bullet leaving behind a large hole and more than 100 bullet fragments in his head.
Middle East Eye Children attending Ibziq Mixed Primary school in the Northern Jordan Valley are now endangered by nearby firing zones for Israeli military training. The school was established last year by the Palestinian Authority to improve access to education in Israeli-controlled Area C of the West Bank, but students now face attacks on the facilities and demolition notices.
Defense of Children International – PalestineINTERNATIONAL SOLIDARITY MOVEMENT calls for volunteers to help with olive harvest and the beginning of the school year. If there are foreign volunteers present to help with the harvest, the settlers and IDF are less likely to cause difficulties. Same goes for the beginning if the school year. ISM volunteers go on school runs to protect children from Israeli Occupation Force and settler harassment.
IMEMC Palestinian police released a statement specifically targeting and banning the al-Qaws organization for Sexual and Gender Diversity in Palestinian Society. Al-Qaws announced it will hold a “queer camp” at the end of August near the West Bank city of Nablus. According to the organization, the event was to provide an opportunity for young Palestinians to discuss their sexuality and experiences.
New York TimesIsraeli forces crack down on hunger strikers at Ofer Prison. Israeli forces raided a prison in the occupied West Bank on Monday, firing tear gas and moving several Palestinian prisoners to solitary confinement. According to the Palestinian Authority news agency Wafa, the same forces broke into a section of the prison where around 100 children are detained and tied up some of them.
Palestinians and British ISMers hospitalized in sadistic and brutal display of violence by Israeli soldiers in East Jerusalem demolition. Two Palestinian families lost their homes yesterday in unprecedented mass demolitions in East Jerusalem carried out by 900 Israeli soldiers who hospitalized Palestinians and ISMers in a sadistic and brutal eviction operation. During the invasion of the two occupied buildings Israeli border police shot Palestinians at close range with rubber-coated steel bullets and kicked them down flights of stairs. ISMers were stamped on, dragged across the floor by the hair, strangled with a scarf and pepper sprayed by Israeli border police.
OCCUPIED PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES
Defense for Children International’s Documentation Unit tracks child fatalities monthly in Occupied Palestinian Territory. Deaths of children ages 0-17 who were not involved in conflict but were killed “as a result of Israeli military and settler presence” have so far totaled 17 in 2019.
Defense of Children International – PalestineDefense of Children Year in Review: 2018 rained deadly force on Palestinian children. Israeli forces continued to kill Palestinian children at an average pace exceeding one child per week in 2018. At the bitter close of 52 weeks, 56 Palestinian children were dead due to Israeli forces’ actions.
Defense of Children International – Palestine Video reprise of the year-in-review. On August 23 a 17-year-old Israeli girl was killed by an explosive and her brother and father injured near a Jewish settlement northwest of Ramallah in the West Bank. On the same day, Israeli forces injured over 100 Palestinians in Gaza (half of them with live bullets). So far in 2019, 9 Israelis have died in conflict-related violence while nearly 90 Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza have died at the hands of Israeli occupation forces and armed settlers.
Electronic IntifadaDuring the reporting period, PCHR documented 210 violations of the international human rights law and international humanitarian law (IHL) by Israeli forces and settlers in the occupied Palestinian territory. I encourage you to follow the on-the-ground reporting from PCHR.
Palestinian Centre for Human Rights Five ways to support Palestinian queers. An important list for activists, includes centering Palestinian LGBTQ voices in reporting, realizing that colonialism, patriarchy and homophobia are all connected oppressions, and steering clear of pink washing.
There has been much written on unethical practices at UNRWA. Here’s a sampling:
UNRWA staffers accused of misappropriating funds.
Inter Press Service News AgencyNetherlands and Switzerland put their funding on hold and Belgium suspends UNRWA funding over leaked ethics report.
AljazeeraThe revelations of the internal ethics report are indeed reprehensible and those responsible should not go unpunished. But that does not mean that UNRWA should be defunded or shut down, a move that would only punish Palestinian refugees.
But there is also positive news.
UNRWA builds new health center in Zohour area in Amman. Construction has begun on a health center in the Zohour area of Amman, Jordan. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) is building the center with funding from the Saudi Fund for Development (SFD). Expected to be operational in August 2020, the center will offer health services to 68,000 Palestinian refugees using a Family Health Team (FHT) approach.
UNRWAAustria donates $2.1m for UNRWA health services.
Middle East Monitor UAE donates $50 million to UNRWA for Palestinian Health Programs.
Israel Health Ministry ‘worried’ that Palestinian Authority’s halt in Palestinian transfers will hurt Israel hospitals. “Israel is manipulating the issue of medical transfers and adding figures to the treatment bills that do not mirror the real cost, then carrying the bills to the Ministry of Health. Israel is also adding the treatment bill to the ministry’s expenses when offering treatment to a wounded Palestinian, whether due to a car accident or injury at work within its borders.”
Al MonitorIsrael: Court Delays Hearing to Deport Rights Activist. Israel’s Supreme Court delayed a July 25 hearing on whether the Israeli government can deport a Human Rights Watch employee for speaking out on unlawful settlements. In a rare move made less than 24 hours ahead of the hearing, the court delayed the case against Omar Shakir, Israel-Palestine director at Human Rights Watch, until September so that the government can address filings in support of Human Rights Watch’s position. The case offers the court an opportunity to weigh in on the government’s crackdown on human rights activism in Israel.
Human Rights Watch30 more Palestinian prisoners join hunger strike. 30 Palestinian prisoners from various prisons in Israel joined 60 other prisoners in an ongoing hunger strike on August 12. The strike is in solidarity with six administrative detainees who have been on hunger strike against their illegal detention without charge or trial for over a month. The prisoners are refusing to eat food or drink water until the Israeli prison authorities agree to the demands of the six administrative detainees. Estimates say that there are currently more than 500 Palestinians under administrative detention in Israeli prisons and detention centers. More than 5700 Palestinians are currently imprisoned in Israeli jails.
Peoples Dispatch Peoples DispatchIsraeli forces killed and maimed some 2,800 Palestinian children in 2018, the highest number in years, and yet were not mentioned on an annual United Nations blacklist of armed forces that commit atrocities against youth.